Frontier spending gets OK in Whately
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WHATELY — Whately voters Thursday passed their $864,783 share of the Frontier Regional School District operating budget without debate. The figure was $12,371 lower than it appeared in the warrant, which had been printed before the School Committee reduced its requested budget.
Included in that number is the town’s $20,000 share of several regional school projects.
The trouble is, two of the Frontier Regional School District’s other three towns have only approved some of Frontier’s capital requests.
To pass, each of the requests needs approval from three of the four district towns.
Sunderland voted last month to approve its $17,759 share of $67,500 for building safety and security updates, but defeated an electrical improvement project, a replacement pickup and a student transport van.
Voters at Deerfield’s annual town meeting in April approved $14,803 of its share of Frontier projects.
They agreed to pay for changing the locks for exterior doors and replacing interior doorknobs, part of a safety and security project, and electrical repairs to the school garage. Other capital requests were defeated in Deerfield.
Now, the fate of those projects waits on Conway, which will hold its annual meeting Monday.
Whately voters questioned but approved a $32,165 increase in the ambulance service budget at Thursday’s annual town meeting.
The question wasn’t whether the town should fund the increase, but whether it would be enough to provide the level of service Whately wants.
“This (increase) is a step forward, but there are more steps to be taken,” said Jonathan Edwards, chairman of the Select Board. “There will be greater (ambulance) budget requests in the future because of our need to serve the town.”
The increase will be used to pay the town’s emergency medical technicians to be available on an on-call basis for specific shifts.
The town already has an around-the-clock ambulance service, but responses can be hindered if the town’s EMTs are unavailable, according to Edwards.
In a typical year, said Town Clerk Lynn Sibley, the town’s EMTs respond to about 100 calls. But last year, she said, the town’s ambulance only went to 45 calls, because EMTs were not available for the rest, which went to other ambulance services through mutual aid.
With the increased budget in place, the town’s 18 EMTs will sign up monthly for on-call hours, two EMTs per shift. During those hours, they will stay in town and close to their emergency pagers, though they need not sit and wait at the station.
Though the increase should make the ambulance more available, more is on the horizon.
The town has been in talks with Deerfield and Sunderland to create a regional ambulance service. Edwards said he expects plans to be more “fleshed out” within the next six months. He assured the meeting that Whately would keep its ambulance service to supplement a regional service should one take root.
Also at the meeting, the town approved putting prior year funds of $20,000 into a stabilization account earmarked for the future purchase of an ambulance.
All other articles on the warrant were approved.